Nearly status quo
At last there is a new Cabinet in Russia. There were no sweeping changes as it had been predicted. German Gref, Mikhail Zurabov and Vladimir Yakovlev were not reappointed. It can be named a limited manpower rotation and it shows that this government will work not so long. Already after the presidential elections in March one can expect new, more significant shake-ups in the Cabinet.
There was a more than a week pause. It became an unexpectedness; for example, the editor of the political department of the “Expert” magazine Andrei Gromov promised that on September 24, when a new issue of the magazine appeared, the membership and the structure of the government would be known. Probably, informed people knew the membership and structure of the Cabinet already in Friday, but uninformed people was visibly nervous in Monday. The question that made them feeling uneasy got its response on Monday evening.
As Polit.ru supposed, there were no significant staff changes. Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref sent in his resignation and it was accepted. Health and Social Development Minister Mikhail Zurabov and Minister of Regional Development Vladimir Yakovlev were also retired.
The president didn’t accept the resignation of the Defense Minister Anatoli Serdyukov who asked for it some time ago because of his close relationship with the new Prime Minister. Since both ministers submit directly to the president there is no infraction of the law in the fact that relatives work in one Cabinet. The law on the public service prohibits only direct subordination. Will nepotism become a distinguishing feature of the new government? For example, Tatiana Golikova, the wife of Victor Khristenko, now heads the Ministry of Health and it seems, that he isn’t going to hand in his resignation.
It seems that Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin has won following the changes in the Cabinet. First of all having become a vice-premier, he promoted his formal status; then he got rid of a very strong opponent in the person of German Gref. His former subordinates now hold posts of the president of the RF, of the premier minister, deputy premier minister and head of the Ministry of Health and Social Development. Without German Gref the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade that used to be a strong lobbyist centre can now become an ordinary expert department. Now all financial flows will bypass the Ministry and later on (but not very soon) it can be abolished. A course towards the macroeconomic stability probably prevailed over one towards the acceleration of development, so purposes of the Ministry of Finance prevailed over purposes of the Ministry of Economic Development. In the future state-run corporations and big companies are to load all development work on themselves.
Dmitry Kozak got another and, probably, not the last appointment. He has already carried out unsuccessful administrative, juridical and municipal reforms and hapless policy of appeasement in Prednestrovye. He was also a plenipotentiary in the South Federal District and there no changes occurred. Now he heads the Regional Development Ministry. It seems that Dmitry Kozak is always appointed on the most problem positions. In other words, the president acknowledges that the Regional Development Ministry is necessary and in the field of its activity everything is extremely bad; so bad, that Kozak is demanded.
It is remarkable, that there were no radical structure changesl; certain ministries were not weakened due to strengthening of others. Two federal committees will appear, i.e. the Committee for Youth Affairs and one of fishery. Although de facto they already existed. One suggested establishing two corresponding national projects (‘national projectisation’ of 2005-2006 continues). Mikhail Fradkov stood up for a fishery national project; well, that’s a good field of action for an ex-premier.
All these rotations are designed to keep the status quo in the government and close agencies. Whether new ministries will really “work like a Swiss watch” (Vladimir Putin) - it’s another question. There is a person responsible for it, it is Victor Zubkov. Appearance of a real interaction between Zubkov, Serdyukov, Bastrykin and Mokretsov, predicted by some experts, can influence on the line-up for the eliet but not for the government.
Further changes, staff transfer in departments, distribution of budgets are expected in the period 2008-2012 and depend on that, who will be a new president and what role will play Vladimir Putin in future.